A nomadic family wanders the Australian Outback in search of work,
but the mother and son want to settle down while the father is against it.
The Sundowners (1960)
Directed by Fred Zinnemann
Written by Isobel Lennart
Starring Deborah Kerr, Robert Mitchum, Peter Ustinov,
Michael Anderson Jr., Glynis Johns, Dina Merrill, Chips Rafferty
Based on the novel by Jon Cleary
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Actress (Deborah Kerr), Best Supporting Actress (Glynis Johns), Best Director,
Best Adapted Screenplay
I was into The Sundowners for maybe twenty minutes. I was intrigued by the combined talents of Deborah Kerr, Robert Mitchum, and Peter Ustinov. With that combo, how do you make a film as boring and uneventful as this? There is no story to be had, no driving force, no character development, and no climax. We are just following the Carmody family as they traverse the Outback looking for work. They herd sheep, then they shear sheep, then they buy a racehorse, and then it's over. And for some reason, all of this takes nearly two and a half hours to get through. It's the film that just didn't have the common decency to end.
Kerr and Mitchum star as Ida and Paddy Carmody, two Australian (possibly Irish) nomads who live on the road with their teenage son Sean (Anderson Jr.). They take what they can get, and Ida is saving for a down payment on a farm. Paddy, however, is a selfish bastard who loves living free off the land and doesn't want to settle down. That's about all the story we get, folks. Paddy becomes a sheep shearer and that's about half the movie. Then they buy the racehorse, and now it's a different movie for the last hour. Also, Peter Ustinov plays Rupert Venneker, an Englishman who just kinda joins their family. Oh, and he flirts with Glynis Johns, who somehow got an Oscar nom out of this.
The Sundowners is another inexplicable holder of a Best Picture nomination. I know the pickings in 1960 were not slim because Psycho doesn't have one and neither does Spartacus. So what the hell happened? This film is a boring, pointless, meandering drama that goes absolutely nowhere and doesn't even bother to be memorable. It just keeps going, and going, and going.